Martina McBride shined in Saturday concert

By Tony Jovenitti

Martina McBride is widely recognized as one of the best vocalists in music, but Saturday… Martina McBride is widely recognized as one of the best vocalists in music, but Saturday night at the Petersen Events Center she proved that she can rock, too.

Her Shine All Night tour, which she isheadlining along with country crooner Trace Adkins, invaded the Pete with a vast stage that covered nearly half of the arena’s floor.

She jammed through most of her upbeat songs in the beginning of her set, including “When God Fearing Women Get the Blues” and “Wild Angels.”

McBride’s strongest talent is her powerful vocals. Her singing can send chills down a listener’s spine, hitting shattering high notes for nearly 20 seconds, but a set full of power-ballads could lead to a boring show. Thankfully, McBride — after 18 years of experience — knows when to use cover songs to keep the crowd excited..

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She led a sing-a-long to Bill Wither’s soul hit “Lean on Me,” and then sang a beautiful version of the classic country song of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It through the Night.”

After further showing off her vocals during the inspiring song “Anyway,” McBride rose up from behind the side of the stage sitting on a large neon-blue crescent moon. She floated over the crowd to a small stage near the back of the floor while singing the tear-jerking “Concrete Angel.”

“Now you can all say you were mooned by Martina McBride,” she said as fans in the back of the arena rushed down to get temporary front row seats.

A new trend in country music is for the musician to walk directly through the crowd at a concert — something that Taylor Swift and Keith Urban have helped perfect. McBride followed that trend and gave hugs to several women as she made her way back to the main stage while singing “This One’s For the Girls.”

She nailed one of those chill-inducing high notes at the end of “Broken Wing” and ended her set with one of her biggest hits, “Independence Day.”

After a raucous applause from the crowd, McBride returned to the stage. She had yet to sing the power-ballads “How Far” and “Where Would You Be,” but instead of performing more slow songs, she chose the rowdy route and sang more covers.

She reappeared wearing a form-fitting Ben Roethlisberger jersey, and appropriately sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” much to the delight of the crowd. She ended the show with Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69.” She sang it, she said to the crowd, just because it’s fun.

And that’s what the entire evening was, just fun.

Her co-headliner, Adkins, heated up the crowd with his humorous hillbilly anthems, including “Honkytonk Badonkadonk” and “Hot Mama.”

He also sang a new farce that pokes fun at the fact that people get paid to do some ridiculous things — such as a football player who fumbles and sits out the second half, but still gets paid.

“Hell, I could do that,” Adkins sang.

The song even makes fun of Matthew McConaughey.

“He just takes off his shirt, a stunt man does all the work,” he sang. “Hell, I could do that.”

After he concluded his set, the crowd roared long after he left the stage. When his tall, husky and unmistakable long-haired silhouette reappeared on stage, the roar turned to screams. He apologized if anyone found any of his songs distasteful and said his mother often chides him for singing about “badonkadonks.” Then he introduced his encore as a song for his mother.

“Muddy Water” is a hymn-like song about being baptized, and when combined with a live vocal choir, Adkins’ baritone voice is strikingly inspiring.

He brought the tempo back up with Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” but wrapped his encore with a brief reprise of “Muddy Water” with the choir, which Adkins said hailed from Pittsburgh.

The night was full of a wide range of music and vocals. Along with McBride’s smooth and powerful voice and Adkins’ extra-deep crooning, Sarah Buxton kicked off the show with her raspy, almost childlike voice.

Buxton sang a few of her lesser-known singles, but received the warmest reception from the crowd when she sang “Stupid Boy,” asong she wrote made popular by Keith Urban. While Urban’s version is a song of regret, the song takes on a new meaning of anger when sung from the woman’s perspective. And Buxton’s raspy voice helps show just how hurt the female speaker of the song is by this stupid boy.

The Shine All Night tour may not have featured the brightest stars in country music, but it did portray the wide range of talent that the oft-mocked genre offers. Humor, sadness, story-telling and God-loving — or in McBride’s case, God fearing — were all on display Saturday night with the help of some unique vocalists.